Friday, August 22, 2008

A note for our legislature on renewable energy

I've been subscribing to Solar Nation's newsletter. Very interesting little tidbits come through that way, for example, updates on the solar tax credit (both Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens voted to block this).
Clean energy businesses are being attracted to [North Carolina] in part because of imaginative energy policy there, and numerous citizens’ groups have had a role in steering that policy in the right direction.

Some of the milestones in the state’s road to renewables include:

• 12.5% Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (2007/2008)
• 35% State renewable energy tax credits
• Improvements to State interconnection standards (2008)
• Solar access law (2007)
• State Green Business Fund

It’s this kind of legislative and regulatory climate that has helped make North Carolina attractive to clean energy businesses. Last month Sencera International Corporation of Charlotte announced it would construct a $36 million facility in Mecklenburg County for production of solar cells and assembly of PV modules. The State’s forward-looking energy policy, as well as a $62,000 One North Carolina Fund grant and other incentives, were instrumental in the company’s decision.
Now here's what I don't understand. The state of Alaska spends gobs of money on attracting what is, essentially, a dying industry, rather than where all the breakthroughs and excitement are: renewable energy. Yes, indeed, we have lots of oil. But it's only going to get more valuable as time goes on. Why spend money to burn it? Let's get our energy grid off of fossil fuel, and spend that cash on encouraging the new industries to come here.

But no, from our local utility on up, our incentives are pretty minimal. Organizations like REAP are working hard to change this, though, so maybe we'll get this turned around.

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